Words by Onyeka Nwelue
His name is Asa Asika. He used to carry a 1975 afro hair-do that made him look unique. Back then, when he used to frequent Rehab, the club on Victoria Island, he smiled a lot. You obviously would think he’s the Momma’s Boy, the kid who’s got everything working for him. He was always cheerful and happy. But you wouldn’t know that deep in his head, he was setting himself up for greatness.
I remember a time he sat in my office and how his phone kept ringing. There was no stopping. He is young and to have people calling him that way, simply means he is something else. He is not Davido, the artiste that he manages. And his life must be very and extremely busy. Most people will not understand this. It is believed that he is cousin to the rapper Naeto C. But does that count? He must be related to the boss of Storm Records, Obi Asika? Does it really matter? For the most part, he has a lot going on for him. He is doing all these things alone, without being under anyone’s spotlight.
In a few days, he will be travelling again to South Africa, so I decided to talk to him.
I am very age conscious. How old are you?
I turned 22 in August.
What have you been doing with your life?
A lot mostly entertainment driven, I have been round entertainment all my life, thanks to my Uncle Obi Asika and my older cousin Naeto. I’ve done events, promoted artists, etc. I started doing that when I was about 16.
At your age, you are already an artiste manager, managing one of the hottest artistes in the continent. It is very interesting how you do this, but then what is the voodoo behind your energy?
(Laughs) There is no voodoo or witchcraft behind it. I think when someone does what they like, it just comes naturally. I love what I do and working with Davido and the rest of our team is great. We all know what we want and have the same goals.
Recently, you and your artistes have been touring the world, performing. You guys have been winning awards too. Can you tell us about the countries you’ve visited and what the receptions were like?
We have been lucky enough to perform all over the world in the last 15-16 months. HKN has been to Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Ghana, Benin Republic, Ireland, Botswana, the UK just to name a few. We have had ups and downs. I really enjoyed the reception and treatment in Malaysia . I never believed that we would run into that many Nigerians out there. Ghana is always crazy!
Many young people in Nigeria know nothing about what they want. Is there a recipe needed to understand oneself to be able to pluck into the future?
I think it comes with the person, I can’t really say. With me I lost my mother when I was only 7 and I’m the first of 3 kids. So I had to grow up a bit faster than most people.
For some time now, I thought that university education elevates man to the highest order. I mean, I still find it appalling that many graduates haven’t even invented themselves and have nothing to do. What is your take on this?
I think it works differently for people. People in Nigeria have Master’s degrees and can’t get decent jobs. So what really is the point? I support education fully and think it’s very important everybody get a certain level of education.
Are you an emotional person?
Yes I am very emotional.
Nigerian universities graduate people every year. And the labour market is completely saturated. However, many people have turned to music as a way to escape the label of ‘unemployed’. So, every studio is suffused with people struggling to get their voices heard. How do you think they can make themselves unique as musicians? What does it mean to be an artiste manager?
It’s a very demanding job because everything that happens especially the bad gets blamed on you. It is a fun job to me. I love going around promoting the music, the meetings, strategising, etc. You have to have a lot of self control also.
I may need to get personal with you. Are you in a relationship? If not, why? If yes, is it distracting?
No I’m not. I was in one when we started the Davido project but since then I guess I’m just too busy.
I hate to ask people this, because it is very cliché. What advice do you have for young people who want to be like you?
This question is funny to me because I always ask myself why would anyone want to be like me? I think every young person needs to stay grounded, know what they want and go for it. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
What is your take on the political system of Nigeria?
It’s a joke to be honest.
Do you see yourself as an activist? Just like others?
You’ve travelled to many places in Nigeria. You’ve met quite interesting people. Do you agree that Nigerians should co-exist in one nation?
Yes, I agree we should co-exist in one nation.
Who is your favourite Nigerian musician?
What do you think im going to say? DAVIDO of course. I like a lot of Nigerian music I listen to: Asa, Naeto C, Wizkid, Ice Prince, Sina Rambo, Shank, Femi Kuti, Wande Coal. I listen to a lot of Nigerian music.
How do you unwind?
I used to like going to the club a lot but of recent, I prefer to stay at home and watch movies or play football with the boys.
Onyeka Nwelue is a Nigerian writer studying at Prague Film School in Czech Republic. He is the CEO/Founder of Blues & Hills Consultancy.